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'Pretty darn lucky': Pilot hikes 6 miles after surviving plane crash in Morgan County

A pilot survived a small plane crash near Durst Mountain in Morgan County on Sunday, Nov. 27.

A pilot survived a small plane crash near Durst Mountain in Morgan County on Sunday, Nov. 27. (Mountain Green Fire Protection District)


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MOUNTAIN GREEN, Morgan County — A pilot survived a plane crash in Morgan County on Sunday and hiked for roughly two hours to get cell service and call for help.

The airplane crashed several miles up Cottonwood Canyon Road near Durst Mountain on Sunday afternoon, according to the Mountain Green Fire Protection District. The plane had taken off from the Morgan County Airport located in Mountain Green and was traveling to somewhere in Idaho.

"The pilot miraculously walked away from the crash, then hiked about 6 miles to get cell service to call 911," the district said in a post on Facebook.

Mountain Green Fire Chief Brian Brendel later said the pilot first called his son, who told him to call emergency services. Brendel said firefighters were dispatched between 4 and 5 p.m. on Sunday.

"Normally with these situations, we have a great deal of difficulty finding the aircraft or the people," Brendel said. "In this case, he just kind of got out of his plane, dusted himself off and walked himself down this ATV road until he got into cell phone range."

Morgan County Emergency Services and Morgan Sheriff's Deputies responded to the crash, along with the Mountain Green Fire Protection District. Weber Fire dispatch was able to triangulate the pilot's location using his cell phone location data. Firefighters assessed the wreckage, disabled the batteries and fixed a fuel leak.

"Access to the site was difficult, on ATV roads most of the way," said the post.

When responders arrived, they found one of the fuel tanks had ruptured in the crash, but the plane was still in one piece, according to Brendel.

"He very surprisingly did a great job bringing the aircraft down pretty much in one piece," he said. "If you saw our Facebook post, you can see the aircraft is pretty much whole, so he did a really great job."

Brendel joked that the plane is in good enough condition that they could just about "put some wheels on it and fly it right out of there." In reality, while the plane hadn't broken apart, it was likely a "total loss," and would probably need to be cut up and put on a truck to be removed.

The crash site was in a recreational area that is mostly uninhabited — aside from a few summer homes and cabins.

Brendel said the pilot had a couple of bumps and bruises but was not severely injured. The pilot refused medical services and asked to be transported to the crash site to retrieve personal belongings. Investigators have yet to determine the cause of the crash, Brendel said.

"He's pretty darn lucky," Brendel said of the pilot. "He shouldn't play the lottery ever again."

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Bridger Beal-Cvetko covers Utah politics, Salt Lake County communities and breaking news for KSL.com. He is a graduate of Utah Valley University.

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